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[personal profile] oroburos69
Title: Her Place
Beta: Lady_of_scarlet
Fandom: Harry Potter
Prompt: Hermione/Snape. She liked his brains. He liked her style. Futuristic AU, fluff/crack?
Summary: Hermione has a bone to pick, and Snape goes along for the ride. Serious canon AU.
For: Banded_Becky

Hermione Granger was drunk, and Severus Snape was not, too.

“What--what I’m saying is...” Hermione shook her fist in frustration. “All I’m saying is that wizards are tight-asses and idiots.”

“Here here,” Snape grunted. “Tight-asses. Look at this cheap fire-whiskey.”

“I know. We’re war-heroes. We do them the curt--the curto--the honour of attending their stupid shindigs, they could at least spring for top bottle,” Hermione commiserated, neatly distracted from the idea that she’d been cultivating for most of the night.

“Bah. Albus was talking about alochololics and, and...interventions at the last staff meeting,” Snape said disdainfully, his head drooping toward his glass. “Like it’s my fault that award presentations are so boring.”

“Three hours of watching Harry squirm like a--like a--”

“Like a worm?” Snape suggested, glancing at the stage. Potter started stuttering again, guaranteeing at least another ten minutes of tedium before Snape could wander off to his bed, warmed only by copious amounts of free alcohol.

“On a hook,” Hermione agreed. “As he tells everyone the party lie--line,” she corrected herself, “about the whole Voldemort thing and thanks who-the-fuck-ever threw this miserable party is like...some level of hell.”

Snape agreed, sadly. “At least Lucius’ party had strippers.”

“There were strippers?”

“Narcissia and Lucius. They had a bit much to drink.”

“Ah.” Hermione shoved her empty glass at the barkeep and stared him down until he refilled it. “I never get invited to the good parties,” she said with all the ill-grace she could manage.

Snape nodded, frowning into his drink.

Their conversation lapsed.

“A man should know his place,” Hermione snapped suddenly. “How--”

“Indeed,” Snape agreed. He stuck his hair behind his ears, and squinted at the bottles behind the bar. He could probably make a potion from them. A drunkeness potion. It would make him very drunk.

“--ridiculous...” Hermione paused. “Wait, what?”

“It’s quite a nice thing, knowing your place,” Snape said, somewhat confused, as he’d thought he was agreeing with her.

“I...suppose,” she said. “I was trying to point out that it sounded ridiculous when you apply it to men, though.”

He risked a glance at her, taking in her downcast eyes and flyaway hair. “Who else would you apply it to?” he asked, though he had a sneaking suspicion that he knew. The Wizarding World was a good deal more backward than Hogwarts.

“They joked about it, the assholes!” she snapped, angry again. “They said, ‘A muggleborn woman should know her place,’ and they laughed!”

“But you know your place,” Snape pointed out. “If they don’t happen to agree with it, then that’s their problem.”

A strange smile crossed her face, and she looked up at him. “Really?”

“Really.” He congratulated himself on having comforted a former student, deciding that it could certainly count toward his yearly quota. Albus would be so proud.

“Hmmm.” She sipped at her drink, then grabbed a bar napkin and conjured a pen. She scribbled a series of numbers, then added runes as theoretical placeholders for arithmancy algebra.

“What are you doing?” Snape asked, following her work with interest. She seemed to be making probability calculations (a much more reliable form of divination), but he couldn’t tell the events that she was attempting to predict.

Hermione leaned back and eyed her calculations. A broad smile crossed her face, and she turned to him, bright-eyed and swaying in her seat. “How do you feel about trolling?”

“Hunting trolls? Best left to the experts,” he said. “I would have thought you’d grown out of that after your first year.”

“No, this is quite a different kind of trolling.” Hermione cracked her knuckles and slid off her stool, in tandem with the polite applause for the end of Potter’s speech. “I imagine you’ll enjoy it.”

Snape eyed the bottles behind the bar again, then sighed. Albus would be insufferable if he left the girl to the wilds of society. He edged carefully off his stool, taking to the slightly swaying ground with the mastery of a sailor. “Well? Tell me more.”

She beamed, and sent a muttered spell his way, clearing a good deal of his pleasant buzz. “Just be yourself,” she said. “And it’ll be quite enough.” She cast the spell again, this time aimed at herself.

Snape adjusted the hems of his robes, and wondered, a trifle warily, what business could require that he be himself. Usually people requested the opposite.

"Come along then," Hermione said, tucking the napkin into her pocket. "I'll introduce you to the Head of the Department of Mysteries."

"What for?"

"We're going to get him fired," she replied cheerfully. "Now, how do I look?"

Snape froze. "You look--" Bright-eyed? Flushed? Happy? "--quite respectable."

"Do I now..." Hermione darted through the crowd, heading toward the mirrored walls. Snape followed, enjoying how people parted in front of him like the Flood of Atlantis had parted around Merlin.

"No, no, that won't do," he caught Hermione muttering as she pulled out the bun in her hair. It tumbled out around her shoulders, slowly growing and poofing up until it reached its usual mass. With her hair down, she looked much more like her picture in the newspaper photos of Voldemort's defeat.

"How do you intend to get the Head of the Department of Mysteries fired?" Snape asked. After a moment, he wondered if he should have asked why instead.

She paused, and peeked at the napkin in her pocket. "Did you happen to see Amelia Bones anywhere?"

"She is with Albus," Snape said, getting excited despite himself. He'd always enjoyed getting people in trouble.

Hermione smiled at her reflection, then spun to face the rest of the room, her robes swishing. "Excellent."

He trailed along behind her, admiring the way her robes fluttered. She must have had them specially tailored for that--Merlin knew he did.

The terrible two-thirds of her trio were pushing through the crowd, trying to reach her, but more than half the ballroom separated them. Weasley waved, gesturing for her to join them. Hermione ignored him, setting a path straight for a group of men that Snape recognized as Ministry flunkies.

"What do you intend to do?" he murmured, asking again, because just be yourself was advice he'd been given on several occasions, primarily from people who believed that his natural demeanour was not, in fact, his natural demeanour.

Hermione paused long enough to look up at him and smile. "Don't you trust me, Professor Snape?"

Amelia Bones was in a group next to the one Hermione was aiming for. Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley were approaching quickly. The group of men that Hermione was striding toward was, by and large, drunk.

"Not in the slightest."

"That's probably for the best," Hermione replied. "Did you know that the Department Head, Duggledorn, has held his position for the last forty-five years?"

Snape blinked. The vast majority of ministry officials--particularly the department heads--had lost their positions after Voldemort's defeat. Discreetly, quietly, and subtly, the supporters of the old regime had disappeared into obscurity and retirement.

"For that forty-five years, only one muggleborn wizard has been employed by the Department of Ministries. He was employed for three months, at which point he mysteriously disappeared."

People were looking at them now. Eavesdropping.

"Of the ten witches that have been employed by the Department of Mysteries, five were Department Head Duggledorn's secretaries, all of whom were fired when they turned twenty-five, and three of whom had wrongful termination suits that were somehow misfiled. I had to search for quite some time to find them--I had to search even longer to find their complaints about Duggledorn's conduct."

"What of the other five women?" Snape asked, watching a man in velvet robes slowly turn red with fury. He was far enough away that he had to be using an eavesdropping spell, which was much too uncouth to admit to. Snape was rather enjoying this 'trolling' thing.

"All of them died doing spell research. Oddly, other than those five women and that one muggleborn wizard, not a single person has died or disappeared in that department for the last hundred years."

"That's very strange," Snape said. They were the only two people talking now, with the surrounding party-goers hushed and listening raptly.

"Isn't it, though?" She snatched a flute of fairy champagne from a passing platter and whirled to face him. "What's worse--" she lowered her voice and leaned forward until she was nearly whispering in his ear, "--I've heard that he'll pitch a fit at the smallest provocation when he's drunk."

From the faces of the people surrounding them, none of them had heard what she said, but all of them were fascinated.

"Holding a petty grudge, Miss Granger?" a voice snapped, and Snape couldn't tell if there was more loathing packed into "Miss," or into Hermione's obviously Muggle surname.

A man--almost certainly Duggledorn--stormed up to her, a half-full glass of fire whiskey clenched in his meaty hand. "More proof that your reputation is nothing but you cashing in on schoolyard friendships?"

Snape raised an eyebrow, taking in the expressions of wrath that had crossed Potter and Weasley's faces, who were now just close enough to overhear.

"Whatever are you talking about?" Hermione asked, her hand sliding up the sleeve of her robe, to the wand-holster fastened to her forearm.

"You think I couldn't hear you, you weaseling little cow?" Duggledorn seemed unaware that he'd just admitted to using an eavesdropping spell, the very height of bad manners at a party. Or that Minister Bones was listening intently, a very unfriendly expression crossing her face.

"Mr. Duggledorn, I said nothing that wasn't a matter of public record," Hermione answered, her shoulders pulled back and a familiar expression of complete defiance on her face. It was appallingly Gryffindor of her, but somehow less annoying than it had been when she was a student.

"You implied and insinuated," he hissed, his already red face brightening further.

Snape shifted, frowning thoughtfully. He was quite certain that Hermione was delighted by the man's reaction, but it wasn't enough to have him fired. Now some obvious prejudice against muggleborns, on the other hand... "I assure you that Ms. Granger's academic record was impeccable, up until she left school to join the Phoenix Resistance."

"As a camp-follower, I'm sure." His slur was quiet enough that anyone without spelled hearing would miss it.

Hermione did flinch a little at that barb, but the expression on Dumbledore's face was truly a marvel of polite anger. She straightened her back and continued. "Mr. Duggledorn, I was the commander of the second branch, and I fought at Harry Potter's side in the final battle. I was not a camp-follower."

A series of soft gasps accompanied her declaration. Hermione Ganger's reputation was sterling, and it was not a good idea to insult it. Particularly not within ear-shot of Weasley and Potter.

For the first time, an expression of uncertainty crossed Duggledorn's face. His brow furrowed, and he very nearly seemed to notice the crowd of people surrounding him, their hands on hidden wands. "No matter your credentials, you will never have the cultural and historical knowledge needed to work for the Department of Mysteries, Miss Granger, and I will ensure that you never, ever find work in my department."

Hermione's face was a study in neutrality as Duggledorn stormed back toward his group of followers, all of whom were looking rather uncomfortable. Had she been one of his Slytherins, Snape would have been very proud indeed.

Weasley and Potter pressed through the quiet crowd, but Hermione strode away from them, toward the edge of the ballroom, her robes snapping around her legs with both elegance and style. Snape followed, thinking that he really had to get the name of her tailor.

"Well planned," he said quietly, as they found a secluded corner. Her friends were following, but he had this moment, at least.

She beamed at him with all the glee she used to have when getting an O on her papers. It was significantly more charming now that she was legal. "He just ruined his career!"

"So he did," Snape agreed. "But what now?"

"Oh, I have a few ideas." She smiled without the faintest hint of innocence.

*One Year Later*

Snape tried to pretend he was surprised, but he really wasn't. "Congratulations."

"Thank you," Hermione said, settling the medallion of office around her neck. "Though you could at least pretend to be surprised."

"I thought it a foregone conclusion."

"Minister Bones could have chosen anyone. I'm just lucky that she was so pleased with my work."

Snape thought of pointing out that she'd had no competition whatsoever, but Hermione did so enjoy her dramatics. "I have always wondered, Hermione--why did you choose the Department of Mysteries in the first place? When you were in school, we were all certain you would end up in the Research and Development Division."

"They have books in their archives that are unavailable to the public, and Harry and Ron started refusing to help me break into the archives at night, even though I was in the middle of The Dwelmer's Logs of Alchemist Rites. Obviously, I had no choice."

"That book is banned in every country."

"And rightfully so. But it is a very interesting read." Hermione bent down and pressed her lips against his in a quick, dry kiss. "I'll see you at the ceremony?"

"Of course, my dear." He slid a bookmark into his text and set it aside. "Have a good day at work."

The new Head of the Department of Mysteries waved cheerfully and flooed out of their rooms to take her place at the Ministry.
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